Mass Audubon Names David O'Neill as Its Next President
David O’Neill
David O’Neill
April 23, 2020 — Mass Audubon, a Lincoln-based nonprofit that is the state's largest conservation organization, recently announced the appointment of David O'Neill, who has dedicated his career to conservation, as its next president.

O’Neill succeeds Gary Clayton, who will retire in May after more than 30 years with Mass Audubon, including serving as president for the last five years.

“David is a committed, proven leader who can hit the ground running on day one, bringing a highly relational and visionary approach,” Mass Audubon board chair Beth Kressley Goldstein said. “I could not be more excited for the future of Mass Audubon and look forward to this next chapter in our long history of connecting people and nature.”

For the last five years, For the last five years, he has served as the chief conservation officer and senior advisor to the CEO of the National Audubon Society, where he led the development of its conservation strategies, helped to unify the state offices around a single vision, oversaw the organization’s policy, advocacy, and science agendas, and launched programs to help fight the impacts of climate change.

Earlier, O’Neill served as vice president at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and director of Land Use Policy and Outreach for the Urban Land Institute.

He was also president of the Audubon Action Fund, Audubon's 501c4 partner organization.

“To lead a storied institution that provides so many with those life-altering, nature-based experiences is an exceptional honor,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said he was particularly inspired by Mass Audubon’s commitment to thread climate change strategies through all its work; to embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion opportunities, including its reach to new audiences; and to widen its lens to improve the health and resilience of Massachusetts, New England, and beyond.

In addition to his nonprofit work, O’Neill has served in executive positions in the private sectors, including as a vice president for Cherokee Investment Partners, a private equity firm based in North Carolina.

He has authored publications on the relationship between land use and environmental health. and was the recipient of the prestigious Andrew White Medal from Loyola University for his contributions to the recovery of the Chesapeake Bay.

Mass Audubon was founded as the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1896 to stop the slaughter of birds for their feathers. New Audubon chapters were subsequently established across the country, and in 1905 NAS was founded. However, Mass Audubon is independent of NAS although both share a mission of promoting birds, other wildlife, and natural ecosystems.

Mass Audubon today protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, has more than 135,000 members, and welcomes than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers.